There may not be a coach in the country that consistently has more success in the NCAA tournament than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.
It’s been 18 years since Coach K missed the NCAA tournament. Izzo’s been in the tournament every year since he took over the Michigan State program, and the Spartans haven’t missed a dance for 16 years. Coach K has four national title in his career, spread out over three different decades, and been to 11 Final Fours in total. Tom Izzo has made it to six Final Fours and won the 2000 national title.
And wouldn’t you know it, but those two coaches could end up playing in this year’s NCAA tournament.
In the Sweet 16. From the AP:
The coaches have gone head-to-head only twice in the NCAA tournament, splitting those games. Both have work to do before there can be a third – and then there would be the potential regional final matchup against Big East champion Louisville (29-5), the No. 1 overall seed.
“You know it is hard to look ahead to any of that. Coach speaking, never do that. But in human speaking, you do that,” said Izzo, 1-6 in his career against Duke.
These two coaches are part of the reason that the Midwest is being talked about as the toughest region in the tournament. You don’t bet against Izzo in the tournament, unless he happens to be playing the team many thought would be a No. 1 seed — and who was the best team in the country before losing Ryan Kelly to a foot injury — in the Sweet 16.
And then what about the other side of the bracket.
Rick Pitino and Louisville are the No. 1 overall seed. They could end up getting St. Louis in the Sweet 16, the same St. Louis team that won both Atlantic 10 titles and has been a trendy pick to make the Final Four for about a month.
It’s not going to be easy to make to out of Indianapolis.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.
During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.
In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.
“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”
Miller also released his apology in the same release.
“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.
For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?
Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.
According to a report from Kyle Austin of MLive.com, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.
The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.
If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.
Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.